Mallinger, Vision West encourage support by ODs, industry

February 13, 2012

Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation is beginning a series of Donor Spotlight articles in the AOA News. The focus of the Donor Spotlights will be to highlight donors who are committed to the foundation and its mission. 

This is part 2 of the series on Joseph Mallinger, O.D., and Vision West, Inc.

As a child, Dr. Mallinger was an intermittent esotrope with accompanying vertical phoria corrected with an ophthalmic prescription. This led him to the field of optometry as he “decided to study the art and science that helped me as a child.” He also went on to pursue his Master’s in Business Administration.

Dr. Mallinger’s own daughter and niece followed in his footsteps.

“Being able to see my daughter, Jennifer Mallinger, O.D., and niece, Leah Mallinger, O.D., graduate from the Southern California College of Optometry stands out as a personal anecdote – WHY? Because I cried all day on both occasions! I had NO idea when I decided on optometry school that my daughter and the daughter of my brother, Rev. Peter Mallinger, would aspire to become eye health care providers!”

As an optometrist, Dr. Mallinger decided to support the AOA Foundation at the request of Richard Hopping, O.D., DOS, and Irving Bennett, O.D., who both served on the foundation board.

“I see no better way to financially support the profession of optometry, honor the GREAT VISIONARIES OF OUR PROFESSION who were still giving back to optometry by their participation on the AOA Foundation Board, and to support the education of the students of optometry while helping bring attention to InfantSEE®. The many aspects of this donation and the scholarships supported by Vision West were and are extremely attractive.”

The AOA’s InfantSEE® program stands out in particular to Dr. Mallinger and Vision West.

“Exposing those in their training to be optometrists to just one of the many great innovations coming from our profession is a pleasure,” he said. “What better way than having the eye health care providers of the future learn and write about such a great program? The InfantSEE® program can and should be the ‘core’ of how our profession makes its mark as TRUE HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS. The actual LIVES this program has saved are remarkable – to say nothing about those children who would fall prey to the loss of vision due to amblyopia and other refractive error anomalies.”

Vision West began the scholarship for the InfantSEE® program almost five years ago and indicates it intends to continue supporting it in the years ahead. 

“As long as the AOA Foundation continues to support AOA programs like InfantSEE® I encourage others within the Vision West sector of the ophthalmic product industry to consider selecting an AOA Foundation program and step up to match or exceed the ongoing donation by Vision West,” he said.

Dr. Mallinger continues to be inspired by others who also give back.

“These volunteers – at every level within the profession are an inspiration to me and should be an inspiration to all who hold the title of OD.  Without these volunteers, without the programs they conceptualize, without their leadership, and without the gift of their time and personal finances to the profession, I truly believe optometry would have fallen to the level of a second-class profession. Those practicing the art and science of this profession provide a level of the finest eye health care in the world. The profession of optometry serves as a primary entry point into the health care system of the U.S., not just the eye health care sector of the U.S. health care system – optometry is on the front lines. It is proven optometry, our profession, plays a significant role in the early diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and many other systemic diseases.”

Financial support is just as important as volunteering time, according to Dr. Mallinger.

“Why then is it important to financially support the AOA Foundation? The answer is above – without the support of the many, those volunteering their time and energy can conceptualize many plans to help the U.S. public – but NONE of those programs can and will be successful without the support of the many companies benefiting from our profession. The many ophthalmic lens manufacturing companies, the ophthalmic frame companies, the contact lens manufacturing and distribution companies, and the companies making the instrumentation now required to deliver the standard of care should, and I would ask them to, take a better look at the very real benefits of the programs supported by the AOA Foundation. Once they do, I further challenge them to financially step up to supporting any of the programs supported by the AOA Foundation.”

Dr. Mallinger continued, “This support will be recognized by the many ODs who use their products and instruments! This recognition will bring further loyalty and increased use of their products. If the “bottom line” is to make money and at the same time make a difference within the very profession that uses your products and services – my advice is GIVE BACK!”

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